Lysine

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

The essential amino acid lysine aids the formation and maintenance of muscle, bone, and other tissues, plus aids recovery. Widely recognized for its potential to relieve herpes I and II, lysine has also been shown to prevent some age-related skin disorders.

Other names for Lysine

L-lysine

Where to find Lysine

Lysine is abundant in brewer’s yeast, dairy products, and wheat germ; fish and other meats; and legumes, specifically soybeans, lima, and kidney beans.


Popup: Foods highest in Lysine

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Lysine

One of the key building blocks of muscle tissue, this amino acid is commonly used by athletes to support lean mass building and the overall health of muscle and bone.

Ways that Lysine can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Build muscle protein to support health and recovery of lean mass
  • Preserve bone health by improving the body’s ability to absorb and use calcium


Ways that Lysine can enhance Longevity:
  • Decrease the visible signs of aging in the skin

HEALTH BENEFITS


Signs of Lysine deficiency

Deficiency of Lysine has been linked to:

  • Fatigue/Weakness
  • Red eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased attention span
  • Anemia
  • Enzyme disorders
  • Retarded growth
  • HIV and immune disorders
Potential uses for Lysine

Research indicates that Lysine may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Signs of aging in skin
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Angina
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Wounds/injuries

DISCUSSION

More about Lysine

Lysine is an essential amino acid that’s found in large quantities in muscle tissue and, with the other amino acids, is used for building and maintaining muscle and other tissues throughout the body.

Why we need it

Athletes especially need to make sure they have adequate amounts of protein (which comes from amino acid building blocks) available to rebuild muscle after intense workouts. As you may know, our bodies are constantly “rebuilding” themselves. This construction is taking place on a continuous basis as we’re going about our daily tasks, completely unaware of the “work in progress” that literally becomes us.

This work requires the use of lysine to form and maintain muscle, bone, and other tissues, and to aid in the healing process when they are damaged. This amino acid also helps our bodies absorb and use calcium as well as potentially reducing its excretion, which is important for supporting bone health, especially as we age.

Therapeutic uses

Lysine has also been shown to be particularly beneficial in the prevention and treatment of herpes types I and II for years. What’s more, it may be beneficial in helping ensure heart health because of its ability to inhibit the build up of junk on the walls of our arteries that can prevent blood and the nutrients it carries from arriving at their destinations on time.

Soft, supple skin

Lysine is instrumental in the formation of collagen, which supports the skin, muscles, and joints. We lose collagen as we age, and the results are… well, sometimes saggy. Yes, skin begins to sag, especially in women (because of a decrease in estrogen as well), and a face that looks older than we feel may gaze back at us as we examine our reflection in the mirror. There is hope, though — supplementation with lysine may help keep our skin looking young and healthy.

Collagen is, of course, also necessary for the repair of all connective tissue (ligaments, cartilage, joints, skin, bones, and teeth) and plays a key role in the growth and repair of many tissues. Thus, healthy collagen may help athletes recover more quickly from intense workouts and protect some of the more fragile tissues of the body.

In conclusion

Generally, the healthier our bodies are, the healthier they become. With optimal amounts of lysine and the other essential amino acids, we may build and maintain healthy protein, which in turn may increase our lean body mass until we’re well on our way to creating the healthy bodies we desire. Add in lysine’s key role in keeping skin looking young, and we may have found at least a bit of a “fountain of youth.”

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Typical amounts are between 500 and 3,000 mg daily.

To improve heart health, 500 mg daily is recommended.

To stimulate growth-hormone release, up to 2,000 mg per day may be needed.

For herpes relief, between 1,000 and 3,000 mg per day may be helpful.

Timing

Lysine is taken in divided doses, before meals. It appears to be most effective when taken on an empty stomach with water. For increasing the release of growth hormone, lysine is recommended before sleep or before exercise.

Synergists of Lysine

Used orally in combination with other potential growth-hormone-releasing supplements such as arginine, lysine taken before exercise or sleep may promote growth-hormone release.

Taken in a 4:1 ratio with arginine, lysine may both prevent infection from the herpes virus as well as prevent flare-ups in those who already have the virus. (Arginine alone, without the right amount of lysine, may trigger a herpes outbreak.)

Safety of Lysine

Although rare, abdominal cramps and diarrhea may be seen with extremely high amounts (15 to 40 grams per day).

Increased risk of gallstones and elevated cholesterol have been reported (in animal studies only) where high amounts were used.

Lysine supplementation is not advised for children.

Toxicity of Lysine

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Civitelli, R., et al., “Dietary L-Lysine and Calcium Metabolism in Humans,” Nutrition 8.6 (1992) : 400-5.
  • Flodin, N.W., “The Metabolic Roles, Pharmacology, and Toxicology of Lysine,” J Am Coll Nutr 16.1 (1997) : 7-21.
  • Griffith, R.S., et al., “A Multicentered Study of Lysine Therapy in Herpes Simplex Infection,” Dermatologica 156.5 (1978) : 257-67.
  • Smirnova, I.P., et al., “Effect of L-Lysine-A-Oxidase on Reproduction of Herpes Simplex Type I Virus in Vitro,” Vopr Med Khim 44.4 (1998) : 384-7.
  • Suminski, R.R., et al., “Acute Effect of Amino Acid Ingestion and Resistance Exercise on Plasma Growth Hormone Concentration in Young Men,” Int J Sport Nutr 7.1 (1997) : 48-60.